Sydney Festival 2014

When: 9-26 January 2014

Website: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2014/

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The Sydney Festival has a lot of great events on in and around the city.

It is full of fantastic shows, theatre, dance, live music, art and much more, in locations such as Town Hall, Parramatta and Hyde Park.

One Thursday after work, a bunch of friends and I (including Kat-the-Cat and Kiwi Kompanion) decided to check it out.

We headed over to the festival village at Hyde Park around 6.00pm. At this time it was not too busy and we were able to walk straight in, without any queues. We heard later that there was a huge line to get in around 7.00-7.30pm, so we were happy we got there early!

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The festival village is full of great tents and stalls including Jafe’s Jaffles, Food Society, the ever popular Gelato Messina, Woofy’s Hot Dogs and Rekorderlig.

20140116_182616We enjoyed walking around and checking out what was on and the atmosphere in the festival was lively and happening, making it easy to relax and enjoy.

After stopping for a little while at the Food Society stall to check out the menu (the smells coming out of there were mouth watering), we decided to head over to Messina instead as the line for the Food Society was far too long.

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Some of the options available (all about $9.00 each) included the messinaweiner- gelato wrapped in a thin pancake, fried and topped with a berry sauce; and the Yeaahh dawg- a gelato hot dog with berry and mango sauce in a brioche bun.

I tried the messinaweiner and my friend tried the Yeaahh dawg.

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The messinaweiner was fabulous. The crunchy fried exterior was delicious and perfect with creamy gelato and a rich jammy sauce.

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The hot dog was a little disappointing as the ice cream melted easily and the bread was a little bland.  That said, it did look amazingly like a real hot dog!

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I also tried some of Kiwi Kompanion’s choc banana sundae, which was, well, a choc banana sundae!  Nothing too special here.

Kat-the-Cat tried the gelatoffee apples.

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She said it was interesting but a little hard to eat and tasted like a frozen, creamy apple. She did love the chocolatey exterior though and we all thought it looked pretty cool!

After checking out the Messina stall, we each grabbed a cool drink at Rekorderlig’s tent, where I was surprised to be asked for my ID (I will take that as a compliment!).

At $8.00 a glass or $20.00 a jug (much better value as you get less ice and more drink!), it isn’t cheap but it was definitely worth it on this hot summer day!

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I opted for a good old Strawberry-Lime cider, while the popular choice in the group was Passionfruit.

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All up, we had a very enjoyable evening and really liked the fun treats at Messina and the cool drinks at Rekorderlig.

If I get another chance to visit I would love to check out the amazing food at Food Society as well.

Definitely suggest checking out the Sydney Festival and at least the Festival Village while it is still open!

If you’ve been to the Sydney Festival, I’d love to hear what you saw and what you thought of it. Please post your comments below!

Sicilian, Parramatta ($$)

Address: 292 Church St Parramatta NSW

Tel: (02) 9633 2299

Website: http://www.sicilianparramatta.com.au/our-venues/

* * *

I received an email not long ago from Ms Gomesz of Sicilian in Parramatta, inviting me to visit the restaurant to try out some of the dishes from the new menu.

I had heard of the Sicilian before but had never actually visited it so I was intrigued and agreed to come in with MC to check it out.

Atmosphere

We had a booking for around 7.15pm on a Friday night.

As expected, Parramatta was just beginning to get busy and we were lucky to nab a spot in the carpark in Erby Place, just behind the restaurant.

We entered the restaurant from the back and I was impressed with the clean and elegant exterior of the restaurant, even from the back entrance.

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The lovely Ms Gomesz gave us a choice of seating and we chose a booth towards the front of the restaurant, which gave us a good view of one of the TV screens around the restaurant, whilst still having a bit of privacy.

We were also near the pizza kitchen, which was a small separate area that was sectioned off from the rest of the kitchen.  The pizza kitchen had a large wood-fire oven for the pizzas and there were two Chefs preparing piping hot pizzas in an unusual shape (see below!).

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The atmosphere at Sicilian was fantastic. It was a Friday night and the restaurant was as any great restaurant should be on a Friday night: busy. There were TV screens showing everything from football to the Discovery Channel, music playing in the background, the sizzling noises of hot food being prepared in the kitchen and the happy chatter of satisfied customers relaxing after a long week.

MC and I felt comfortable in the busy environment and enjoyed looking around at the beautiful paintings on the roof and walls and the Southern Italian styled decor.

Service

Well what can I say about service?

MC commented that it was “the best service he has ever had”, and I have to agree.

Right from the beginning staff were friendly and helpful.  We always felt well looked after without feeling annoyed about being bothered or “checked on” every 5 minutes.

Our waiter (I think his name was Enrique?!) was extremely professional, friendly and seemed quite experienced.

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Food

We soon ordered drinks, with MC going for his usual cider (the only choice was Monteith’s Crushed Apple Cider– $8.00).

I chose a refreshing cocktail, the “Woo Woo”.

This was a beautifully presented and absolutely delicious tropical cocktail containing vodka, peach schnapps, lime and cranberry.

It was served in a tall glass with a slice of pineapple on the side, which was a nice touch.

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Woo Woo, $10.00 (all day)

We began the meal with an entree of Arancini Balls with Aioli.

The arancini were mouth-wateringly good. The exterior was crunchy and perfectly golden but it was the inside which was the best part. The rice was cooked al dente and was full of flavour and the small vegetables and gooey cheese contributed to an interesting texture.

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Arancini, $11.90

For the main event we decided to get a side of Sauteed Seasonal Vegetables to get those vitamins in!

I loved that the veggies were bright and colourful, containing carrot, gorgeous baby potatoes, roasted capsicum, broccolini and beans.

Although MC isn’t a big veggie person and HATES capsicum, I managed to get him to try a piece of the sweet roasted capsicum and (dare I say it?) he actually didn’t mind it!

I thought the veggies were well cooked, until just done, and were bright and well presented.  They were a great side dish to complement the other dishes we ordered.

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Sauteed Vegetables, $6.90

MC’s choice for mains was a wood fire Agnello pizza.

This delicious specimen was made of succulent spit roasted lamb, barbecue onions, slightly salty feta, delicious creamy pumpkin slices and a handful of rocket tossed in lemon vinaigrette.

Not a fan of rocket, MC picked it all off. Despite his comment that “it would be better without the leaves”, he really enjoyed the pizza and commented that the lamb was really tasty.

The star of this dish for me however, was the delicious base. The base was soft and tasted slightly of sourdough.

The crust was amazing and while I would normally eat most of a pizza and keep the crust aside, I absolutely loved this one!

I am not big on lamb but I did really enjoy the tender meat in this pizza and it was perfectly balanced by the sweet onion and creamy cheeses.

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Agnello pizza, $27.90

My choice was the Moreton Baia Bugs.

As I am sure you know, I love seafood. I take any opportunity available to choose dishes which feature crab, prawns or other shellfish.

This particular dish was well presented and contained two grilled marinated Moreton Bay bugs on a basil infused mash with roasted vegetables and Sicilian’s citrus hollandaise sauce.

The bugs were delicious and juicy, not overcooked at all.

MC had never had bugs before but enjoyed prawns and crab on previous occasions.  He and I both enjoyed the subtle flavours of the bugs, which were fresh and warm, together with the tangy Sicilian sauce and lemon juice.

The one thing I did not like about this dish however, was the mash and vegetables.

I felt the mash was very dense and heavy and the dish would have been better with a fresh salad on the side and perhaps some roasted potatoes instead.

Apart from that, we both enjoyed the dish and I was glad I chose it.

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Moreon Baia Bugs, $34.90

After clearing our plates, our friendly waiter brought out the dessert menu on a rustic looking clipboard.

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By this stage MC and I were feeling pretty full so we decided to skip out on a full dessert, which included sticky date puddings, tiramisu and cannoli.

Instead, MC went for an Affogato, an espresso shot served with a shot of ice cream.

While the ice cream was a little icy (perhaps the freezer needs to be turned down a bit?), the espresso was delicious and together they made for a wonderfully invigorating combination.

MC who is not normally a coffee drinker, really enjoyed the affogato and perhaps has acquired a taste for sweet, Italian coffee?

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Affogato, $6.00

I went for one of my favourite post- meal teas, Peppermint. Peppermint tea is soothing and great to freshen up your breath after a garlic-laden meal. It is also known to aid digestion and is quite healthy when enjoyed without sugar.

The tea was served in a cute cut with an individual tea pot and was a nice way to round off the meal.

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Peppermint tea, $4.00

Summary

Overall, MC and I had a wonderful meal at the Sicilian.

The service was the best we have had in a while and we were made to feel comfortable and welcomed, in true Italian style.

Food was tasty, if a little expensive.  The pizza was delicious and next time I would like to try some of the other types available, and perhaps a pasta dish as well.

I will be returning and I would recommend this place to locals looking for a great venue for a date night or family gathering (there is also a large function space at the back of the restaurant!).

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 9
  • Food-  7.5
  • Ambience-  7.5
  • Value – 7.5

TCFB and MC dined as guests of The Sicilian, thanks to Ms Gomesz.

Sicilian on Urbanspoon

On Ramen @ Night Noodle Markets 2013, Hyde Park Sydney

Address: Hyde Park North, Sydney NSW

Website: http://sydney.goodfoodmonth.com/nightnoodlemarkets

Opening Hours:

October 9-12, 14-19, 21-26

Mon-Tue 5-9pm; Wed 5-10pm; Thur-Fri 5-11pm; Sat 4-10pm

* * *

MC and I headed back to the Noodle Markets this week to check out another popular item on the menu, the Ramen Burger.

We got there around 5.45pm, and after grabbing a couple of delicious satay chicken skewers to snack on, we headed over to the Ramen Burger stall.

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Satay Chicken Skewers, $3.00

As you can see from the photo, the queue was quite long as it was a popular choice.

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Now there has been a bit of a buzz about the Ramen Burger recently since it was launched by David Yip from On Ramen in Haymarket.

The dish has been popular in Japan, since invented by a 35 year old New Yorker obsessed with Ramen.

Making the patty involves cooking noodle patties until al dente, then washing them under cold water, infusing them with a ramen sauce, freezing it in a container and then frying them hot until crisp to create a “bun”.

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The vegetables on the burger include onion, lettuce, tomato and corn, and the burger can be made with either tofu or beef.

It comes with a side salad which includes, interestingly, watermelon.

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Beef Ramen Burger, $12.50

Overall, the burger is delicious. I loved the mayo tasting light sauce, with the fresh and delicious watermelon. The patty is crisp and firm, without being crunchy and breakable, and the beef is of good quality, delicious and juicy.

I would highly recommend trying this innovative take on Ramen and definitely suggest getting it while it’s hot at the night noodle markets, open until the end of this coming week!

If you miss the markets, check out On Ramen in Haymarket:

Address:  4/181-187 Hay Street, Haymarket

Tel: (02) 9211 6663

On Ramen on Urbanspoon

Night Noodle Markets 2013, Hyde Park Sydney

Address: Hyde Park North, Sydney NSW

Website: http://sydney.goodfoodmonth.com/nightnoodlemarkets

Opening Hours:

October 9-12, 14-19, 21-26

Mon-Tue 5-9pm; Wed 5-10pm; Thur-Fri 5-11pm; Sat 4-10pm

* * *

Currently in its 15th year, the Night Noodle Markets in Hyde Park attracts about 200,000 people each year.

With over 40 delicious food stalls, which are mostly Asian, the Night Markets is a great way to enjoy the beautiful Spring weather with a drink and a quick and cheap meal with friends in beautiful Hyde Park.

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Rekorderlig Cider invited me down to the markets to enjoy a drink at their beer garden.

A short stroll from Darlinghurst, Chinatown, Circular Quay and the city centre, it didn’t take me long to walk up after work, and when I got there (around 5.45pm), the place was already starting to fill up.

I was impressed by Rekorderlig’s chilled out set up with a “May pole” covered in green vines and flowers, beautiful fairy lights, quirky white trees on the tables and funky tunes coming from the (very young looking) DJ. 

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Rekorderlig stall by day

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Rekorderlig stall at night

The signature red and white chairs, seen at previous Rekorderlig stalls, looked comfortable and inviting and provided a great spot from which to sit back and people watch.

We ordered some drinks from the bar in the tent near the beer garden.

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The staff were friendly despite the fact that they were probably dying from the heat that day as it was about 30 degrees in Sydney!

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I ordered the Mango Raspberry cider, one of my favourites!

As always, it was ice cold, perfect for the hot summer day. This flavour is one of my favourites so I really enjoyed the fresh, crisp taste.

In some interesting news, I learnt that one of the favourites, Strawberry Lime Cider is now on tap and will be heading out to bars across town soon!

I also got the scoop on some exciting new developments next week- stay tuned for more information!

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After checking out the Rekorderlig beer garden I met up with my lovely mum and we walked around the rest of the markets, looking at our options for dinner.

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The place was packed out and the background music, Chinese dragon shows and buzz of happy people chatting in the park made for an exciting and fun environment.

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The Night Noodle Markets are definitely a good place to take friends from overseas to, to showcase Sydney’s multiculturalism, or to enjoy a good meal after work from some of Sydney’s most popular Asian restaurants.

Some of the restaurants with stalls included East Ocean, Din Tai Fung, Jackie M Malaysian, Longrain and Zilver.

The Jackie M stall even has Ms M herself cooking at the front of the stall!

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After a bit of walking around, I decided on a delicious box of fried goodness from East Ocean ($12.00). It included pork ribs, salt and pepper octopus and delicious prawns.

The ribs were soft and delicious, easy to eat and tender with a tomato and BBQ styled sauce.

While I am not a big fan of octopus (I don’t like the tentacles). I didn’t mind this as the thicker parts at the top were easy to eat and the fact that it was fried meant I didn’t notice the suckers on the tentacles as much!  🙂

The prawns were well cooked through and were great with the hot chilli sauce.

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Mum decided to get a chicken curry with yellow rice from Chinta Ria, which she said reminded her of Sri Lankan biriyani.

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The chicken pieces were well-cooked and had absorbed the delicious spices from the curry. They were good pieces of chicken with plenty of meat on them.  The yellow rice was gently flavoured and had a slight sweetness from the sultanas.

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We both enjoyed our meals and had a great time out.

I will definitely be returning to try out some of the other foods available, perhaps even the Ramen Burger!

Product Review: Rekorderlig Orange & Ginger Cider

Product: Orange & Ginger Rekorderlig Cider

Available at: your local liquor store

For more information: http://www.rekorderlig.com/au/

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I am a bit of a Rekorderlig fan and was given the opportunity to review the new Orange & Ginger flavour when I was sent a couple of bottles to try.

Rekorderlig’s range of ciders have become increasingly popular among those looking for a more light and flavoursome alternative to beer and wine. I am not much of a beer or wine drinker unless it is a sweet wine such as Rose, Moscato or Verdi. Otherwise I drink mixed drinks such as Beer Chandy or Mimosas, or Vodka Lemon Lime Bitters etc. I really like drinks which taste nice as I don’t drink just for the sake of it, and this is why I enjoy Rekorderlig.

Source: http://www.beersofeurope.co.uk 

Orange & Ginger

When I heard that Rekorderlig had released a new Orange & Ginger flavour cider I was a little sceptical. Their other flavours have been so good (they have Apple, Pear, Wild Berries, Strawberry Lime, etc).

I reviewed the drink with my mum, dad and MC for more opinions on the drink.

The colour of the drink is a pleasant peach which is a little different to the brighter pinks of the other flavours.

The drink itself is quite ginger-y, and in fact tastes a little like ginger beer.. It doesn’t taste of orange at all. I found myself comparing it to those orange and lime mineral waters and diet drinks available in supermarkets.

MC wasn’t much of a fan (he said it was his least favourite Rekorderlig flavour) but my mum and dad really enjoyed it. My mum said it would appeal to ginger beer lovers, such as my dad.

Summary

In conclusion, while all Rekorderlig drinks are light and refreshing for summer, the Orange & Ginger flavour isn’t for everyone.

If you are a ginger beer fan I would definitely recommend trying it. If not, then the only way to find out if you will like this drink is to go out and try it!

Rating

I rated this drink 4.5/10.

Rekorderlig Cider & Sparkle Cupcakery- Mango-Raspberry Cupcake Launch

 

 

Products: Mango Raspberry Cupcakes and Mango Raspberry Rekorderlig Cider

Available at: 

Rekorderlig- http://www.rekorderlig.com/au/

Sparkle Cupcakery- http://www.sparklecupcakery.com.au/

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The Brands

It’s no secret that I love Rekorderlig and many of you will be aware that I really enjoy making (and eating) cupcakes as well.

Rekorderlig Cider has been awarded ‘Best Cider in Australia’ and the brand seems to be growing bigger and better, recently releasing its new Orange & Ginger flavoured cider, which I will be reviewing in the next few weeks.

Sparkle Cupcakery is a unique store which sells a range of cute cupcakes and offers fundraising options and delivery ($18.00) on boxes of 6 or more cupcakes.Their cupcakes are made using free-range eggs and are made fresh daily.

The Event

I was very excited to be invited to attend the launch of Rekorderlig Cider and Sparkle Cupcakery’s limited edition Mango-Raspberry cupcakes.

The launch was held at Sparkle Cupcakery’s Surry Hills store , and I brought MDS along with me to see what all the fuss is about!

The Surry Hills store is like a chic boutique with a white facade and black awnings. We arrived at 6.30pm and had our names marked off the guest list. There were about 30 people there, mostly girls, and the relatively small store was packed out.

There was free-flowing Mango-Raspberry Rekorderlig all night and as I can drink Rekorderlig like it’s water, I definitely took advantage of it and had a few glasses!

Loving the free cider

Mango-Raspberry Rekorderlig is delicious. It is one of MC’s favourite drinks and if you haven’t tried it before you must!

It was MDS’ first time trying Rekorderlig and she really enjoyed it. It is the type of drink that is light and sweet and doesn’t taste alcoholic, which makes it very very very easy to drink!

MDS having her first Rekorderlig

The Product: Mango-Raspberry Cupcakes

We were introduced to the star of the show when we were offered some mini Mango-Raspberry cupcakes to try. The product was a raspberry cupcake base with mango icing.

The cupcakes were cute and the icing on top was quite plain compared to cupcakes in some other stores, but this allowed you to really taste the cupcake instead of the toppers or decoration on top of it.

The cupcake itself was light and golden. Although it was a mini cupcake, it had plenty of raspberries in it.

There was quite a lot of icing for the small cupcake, and it tasted like a mango mousse. It was light and fluffy with a pale yellow colour. I had expected a much more prominent mango flavour, but it was quite subtle and the cupcake was the main focus.

The best thing about the cupcake was that it wasn’t too sweet. You could still taste the flavours in the cupcake without being overpowered by sugar and icing. Although there was a lot of icing, the icing was light and had the consistency of whipped cream.

Overall I would say that the Mango-Raspberry Cupcakes and Mango-Raspberry Cider are both delicious. The cupcakes would be perfect for a tea party or birthday party and the cider is a great drink for lazing by the pool or a picnic or BBQ.

Rating:

I give the cupcakes 6/10 and the cider 8/10.